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Home > Diseases and Conditions > Hypertensive Kidney Disease > Hypertensive Kidney Disease Basics >

Hypertension: A Brief Over View of Hypertension

Over view of Hypertension

What is hypertension

Hypertension (HTN or HT), also known as high blood pressure (HBP), is a long term medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. High blood pressure usually does not cause symptoms. Long term high blood pressure, however, is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, vision loss, and chronic kidney disease.

High blood pressure is classified as either primary (essential) high blood pressure or secondary high blood pressure. About 90–95% of cases are primary, defined as high blood pressure due to nonspecific lifestyle and genetic factors. Lifestyle factors that increase the risk include excess salt, excess body weight, smoking, and alcohol. The remaining 5–10% of cases are categorized as secondary high blood pressure, defined as high blood pressure due to an identifiable cause, such as chronic kidney disease, narrowing of the kidney arteries, an endocrine disorder, or the use of birth control pills.

Diagnosis

Hypertension is diagnosed on the basis of a persistently high resting blood pressure. Traditionally, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommends three separate resting sphygmomanometer measurements at monthly intervals.

Adults:

Normal: currently 139 mmHg systolic, 89 mmHg diastolic

120–139 mmHg systolic or 80–89 mmHg diastolic

Prevention

Much of the disease burden of high blood pressure is experienced by people who are not labeled as hypertensive. Consequently, population strategies are required to reduce the consequences of high blood pressure and reduce the need for antihypertensive drug therapy. Lifestyle changes are recommended to lower blood pressure, before starting drug therapy. The 2004 British Hypertension Society guidelines proposed lifestyle changes consistent with those outlined by the US National High BP Education Program in 2002 for the primary prevention of hypertension:

maintain normal body weight for adults (e.g. body mass index 20–25 kg/m2)

reduce dietary sodium intake to <100 mmol/ day (<6 g of sodium chloride or <2.4 g of sodium per day)

engage in regular aerobic physical activity such as brisk walking (≥30 min per day, most days of the week)

limit alcohol consumption to no more than 3 units/day in men and no more than 2 units/day in women

consume a diet rich in fruit and vegetables (e.g. at least five portions per day);

Awareness

Graph showing, prevalence of awareness, treatment and control of hypertension compared between the four studies of NHANES.

The World Health Organization has identified hypertension, or high blood pressure, as the leading cause of cardiovascular mortality. The World Hypertension League (WHL), an umbrella organization of 85 national hypertension societies and leagues, recognized that more than 50% of the hypertensive population worldwide are unaware of their condition. To address this problem, the WHL initiated a global awareness campaign on hypertension in 2005 and dedicated May 17 of each year as World Hypertension Day (WHD). Over the past three years, more national societies have been engaging in WHD and have been innovative in their activities to get the message to the public. In 2007, there was record participation from 47 member countries of the WHL. During the week of WHD, all these countries – in partnership with their local governments, professional societies, nongovernmental organizations and private industries – promoted hypertension awareness among the public through several media and public rallies. Using mass media such as Internet and television, the message reached more than 250 million people. As the momentum picks up year after year, the WHL is confident that almost all the estimated 1.5 billion people affected by elevated blood pressure can be reached.

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